Toyota Motor Thailand Co., Ltd.
Address: 186/1, 186/1 Rd., Samrong Tai, Samutparkan 10130 Thailand
Service day: Mon-Fri
Service hours: 08:00-17:00
Little by little
Thailand's favourite saloon has been updated with a new drivetrain for better economy and emissions.
After a long, long wait -- spanning three generations of the country's most popular saloon -- Toyota has given the Vios a new engine and transmission.
Although the 1.5-litre petrol engine remains the same in size, it now gets dual variable valve-timing (VVT) control, E85 compatibility and is known by the code 2NR-FBE. The previous 1NZ-FE motor had only single VVT and took E20 gasohol at the most.
The old four-speed automatic is now replaced by a CVT version with seven-speed manual mode from the bigger Corolla Altis to directly match that found in the Honda City arch rival.
Toyota says it has also recalibrated the steering and suspension for easier handling and a more comfortable ride. As well, more sound-deadening materials have been added in the engine compartment, in a bid to reduce cabin noise.
Toyota adds that these enhancements have made the Vios 10-15k dearer than before, with a new price range of 599,000-749,000 baht. The manual gearbox option has been unsurprisingly dropped from the range for the first time due to small sales.
Despite the 1hp drop in power (see graphic for more details), performance is basically the same as before and feels only marginally inferior to that of the City. Which is to say that the usable grunt in the Vios is ample.
The marked improvement is the way its power is being delivered to the front wheels. In the CVT fashion, the driveline is smooth. Drivers needing better responsiveness should find the manual mode useful to a certain extent.
The detailed changes to the driving characteristics can be felt in the revised Vios. The steering feels more composed in a straight line, while the ride appears to be more compliant and refined over secondary road surfaces.
Despite those new noise-insulation measures, the engine's still vocal when pushed to high revs. And if you like to have some driving pleasure, the Vios won't match a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2 in this particular facet.
Toyota has limited this update to just the mechanical side of things, so it hasn't gotten its customary facelift after three years in its current generation. We hear that the Toyota's parent firm in Japan has told the Thai office that the visual update must be kept for next year.
There are two more details that might be worth condemning. First, there's no infotainment available yet for the Vios -- blimey, don't even mention Bluetooth. Second, only the two highest grades get all-round disc brakes; the rest get rear drum brakes. So much for safety.
Buy or bye?
That this update isn't that complete comes as no surprise, because we're talking about a dominant brand that has picked up a habit of improving its cars at a relatively leisurely pace in Thailand.
Yes, the new drivetrain has aided in improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions, but it hasn't necessarily made the Vios an outstanding car overall in the Thai B-segment, especially over the City, which goes better and has more features in range-topping form.
But that probably won't stop the Vios from selling well, due to its strong brand credentials.
The interior hasn't been updated meaning no modern infotainment.
186/1, 186/1 Rd., Samrong Tai, Samutparkan 10130 Thailand